BOSTON (CBS) — Boston Police shot and killed an emotionally disturbed man overnight after they said he attacked officers and EMTs with a knife–but the man’s mother claims he was not armed and was not acting violently.
Hope Coleman says the loss of her son is too hard to bear.
“They shot my son right next to me,” she told WBZ-TV’s Paul Burton.
Police said the incident began as a medical call shortly after 12:30 a.m. Sunday when Coleman called to report that her 31-year-old son Terrence was having a paranoid schizophrenic episode.
After Boston Police arrived at the brownstone on Shawmut Avenue, they encouraged EMS, with backup, to try to calm the man.
They said he pulled a knife and struggled on the floor with the EMTs, injuring two of them.
That’s when Boston Police Commissioner William Evans says officers tried to disarm him. He said the man continued to struggle, and left officers with no choice but to take his life. Neighbors told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 they heard two shots.
“At some point the individual pulled out a knife and started to go at the EMS personnel,” Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said. “Our officers heard the commotion and went in and he started to go at the officers.”
“They tried to subdue the individual without using the force, but he kept his arm free and came at the officers,” said Evans. “At that point he left them no choice, they fired, and unfortunately they had to take this young individual’s life.”
But Hope Coleman said her son did not come at the EMTs or police with a knife. She claims the officers burst into her apartment and shot her son Terrence after an EMT raised his voice because her son did not want to go to the hospital.
“They just burst in and knocked me down and my son down and I heard a gunshot,” Coleman said. “He did not have a knife. That’s not true and I am glad I was there because I would be believing that.”
Evans said the officers’ lives were at risk, and that deadly force was necessary.
“I don’t think a Taser would’ve saved officers lives or EMS,” he said. “We can always Monday morning quarterback, but the threat was real.”
He says he grieves for the mother’s loss.
“I feel for the mother, I know she’s distraught,” he said. “But the EMTs, their boss reached out to me, they were thanking our officers for basically saving their EMTs’ lives.”
Coleman said all she was trying to do was get some help for her son, who she said has a history of mental illness.
“They can go home to their son but I can’t,” she said. “I was trying to help my son. The system is screwed up. You think you’re going to get help, and your son gets shot and that’s not good.”
The officers were not wearing body cameras.
A neighbor said he knows the man was suffering from mental health issues.
“To be honest, it wouldn’t surprise me, I’ve seen some things like this in the past,” he said. “I guess last night was a tipping point … It’s kind of scary with my 7-month-old sleeping five feet away.”
Another neighbor said she was surprised, and that she has always had a nice relationship with her neighbors.
“My baby sleeps in this front room, so waking up to gunshots is terrifying,” she said.
The two EMTs were sent to the hospital with head and back injuries. The officers involved were also taken to the hospital. All were released after being treated for minor injuries.
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s office said Sunday morning that they were investigating the officers’ use of deadly force, as they do in all fatal police shootings.
“Senior Suffolk prosecutors were at the scene through the early morning hours and will lead a thorough, impartial, independent investigation into the events that transpired on Shawmut Avenue,” Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley said in a statement Sunday afternoon. “As we have in every such case for more than a decade, we will release our entire investigative file to the family of the deceased and the media upon its conclusion.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports